Speakers at workshop say Sindh is facing an education emergency Karachi The education sector is one of the most neglected areas in Sindh, where ghost schools are the most crucial issue, with every seventh school being non-functional.
This was the consensus at an ILM-o-AGAHI education journalism workshop held here on Wednesday, said a press release issued by Mishal Pakistan.
According to a recent survey conducted on the directive of the Supreme Court, there are 6,164 non-functional and ghost schools in Sindh, which means every seventh school in the province is non-functional. “There is a dire need to address the education emergency in Sindh, as the future of the next generations depends on the quality of education,” said one of the speakers, who included journalists, academicians and civil society activists.
The workshop was organised by Mishal Pakistan in collaboration with Ilm Ideas, a three-year UKaid-funded programme.
More than 30 education reporters from leading media entities of print, television, radio and online journalism were selected for the workshop.
According to the Alif Ailaan education data, there are 12 million children in Sindh between the ages of 5 and 16, of which 6.1 million or 50 percent are out of school. More than half of the children out of school are girls.
Senior journalist Mubashir Zaidi, while discussing the current state of education and the role of the media, said the government of Sindh spent an estimated Rs573 million on schools that existed only on paper.
The scope of the problem of ghost teachers was crucial as there was no data available on that; however,media reports suggested that many teachers drew salaries from the education department without showing up for their jobs, he said.
“The education sector is the most neglected area in media; however, with the help of civil society, the media should play an active role in promoting education.”
Discussing the role of the media in policy development, Dr Tahir Masood, chairman of the Department of Mass Communication, University of Karachi, said learning outcome of children was also a big issue and required the attention of education policymakers.
Sindh’s children scored poorly in reading and mathematics compared to children in the rest of the country, he said.
“Fifty-nine percent of class 5 students in Sindh cannot read a story fluently in Urdu or Sindhi.”
Talking on the role of media in a society’s evolution, senior journalist and media researcher Afia Salam said: “Education plays a significant role in the development of a society. Due to advancement in the education sector, developed countries make progress by leaps and bounds in all segments of life. Pakistan’s media can play an active role in creating a demand for quality education in the country.”
Asif Farooqui, programme manager of ILM-o-AGAHI, said: “Education spending in Sindh is not rationalised and resources are not allocated according to the needs. Across Sindh, 77 percent of government school buildings are in an unsatisfactory condition, almost half of the government schools in Sindh are missing the basic facility of toilet.”
Adnan Farooqui, senior communication expert, shared his experiences on the art of story-telling through social media. He briefed the participants about how social media was changing trends of journalism across the globe, and how digital communication had made the entire news expression in 145 words possible.
Through the ILM-o-AGAHI initiative, 18 education journalism workshops will be held across Pakistan for education reporters to increase their capacity and improve the coverage of education issues in media.
In each workshop, more than 30 education reporters will be selected to enhance their capacity to report on identified educational challenges and issues to improve understanding and skills among journalists to capture the community’s perspective and voice including children’s voice.
Mishal Pakistan is the partner institute of the Center for International Media Ethics and the Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Networks of the World Economic Forum.